The first week of Black College Football is in the books and it was an uglier start than usual, both literally and figuratively.
The effects of Tropical Storm Hermine forced Norfolk State to push back its home opener against Elizabeth City State to Sunday. Same for Hampton’s contest at Old Dominion.
And two of the games scheduled to take place on Sunday, Texas Southern at Prairie View in the Labor Day Classic and Bethune-Cookman against Alcorn State, experienced weather delays due to lightning. BCU and Alcorn would ultimately have their game cancelled after less than two full quarters of action.
But the weather wasn’t really any excuse for the other games as most teams struggled in Week One. Only one FCS team, Tennessee State, came up with a non-conference win over an FCS opponent, and that was a 44-0 win over the SWAC’s Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The rest of the FCS either played in Money Games they had little to no chance in, like FAMU's 70-3 beating at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes, or hosted a Division II team in their own money game, like North Carolina A&T’s 62-0 drubbing of St. Augustine.
As we head into Week Two, things look a little more promising, but not much. All three of the MEAC’s defending co-champions (A&T, North Carolina Central and Bethune-Cookman) will be on the road in Money Games vs. FBS opponents, as will South Carolina State who is in the middle of three-straight games at FBS opponents to open the season.
Hampton and Norfolk State will remain in-state to face CAA competition, as NSU will have the challenge of going up against a Richmond team that is coming off a win against the ACC’s Virginia Cavaliers in its season opener.
Things promise to be more interesting in the SWAC as conference play opens up for a few teams, with Alabama A&M traveling to Mississippi Valley and Alabama State heading to Alcorn State. For other teams, however, it’ll be another opportunity to come up on a check, as Prairie View heads to Texas A&M, Southern goes to Tulane and Grambling travels to Arizona.
The CIAA will look to rebound from a disappointing Week 1 at the Division II level, as Virginia State was the only team to come away with a non-conference win as it defeated Lenoir-Rhyne on the road in its first game under Reggie Barlow.
Defending CIAA North champ Bowie State will look to keep up its offensive prowess following a 48-point opener against Seton Hill, but hope to keep Johnson C. Smith from putting up 50 points on the board like Seton Hill did.
Speaking of coming up on a check, Elizabeth City State will look to do the same on Saturday when it faces FCS opponent Fordham. ECSU had a respectable showing against Norfolk State last week, so we’ll see if that carries over to Week 2.
Like the SWAC, the SIAC also delves deeper into conference play this week. Tuskegee will face Albany State in a matchup of teams predicted to win their respective divisions and compete for the SIAC title in November.
Morehouse will face Kentucky State in its home opener as it looks to build off a win over Edward Waters last week. Defending SIAC Champion Miles faces a University of West Georgia team that is currently ranked second in Division II.
All in all, it will be interesting to see whether or not last week’s overall disappointing play was just a slow start or the start of a less-than-stellar season.